Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas in Bergen, Norway

Every family has their own Christmas traditions.  I always felt like I was double lucky because I got to celebrate Christmas twice.  Norwegian Christmas and American Christmas.  Now that I am living in Norway, I have learned more about where some of these traditions come from.

First is Advent.  This is the four weeks before Christmas where people count down the days leading to the big day.  Most people have heard of Advent calendars, and we always had these when I was growing up.  Each day has a little window, and underneath sits a little piece of chocolate or a treat.  I'm not sure if this is a norm in an average "American" family but it certainly is in Norway.

Every year in my house, my Norwegian grandma would come visit.  She would make a beautiful table centerpiece with a few candles.  Each Sunday before Christmas, we would light one more candle!!

Christmas colors have always been Red and Green to me, so I was confused when I saw so much Purple.  Purple is the advent color in Norway.  Purple candles, napkins, more candles.


Definition: A formal Christmas party with your work or school in which you eat pinnakjøtt (see more below), drink cocktails and dance!!  Aka, my new favorite.

I've been to many Christmas work parties in my past.  These ranged from fancy sit down dinners to parties in the office with cheese and crackers and sparkling cider.  Most of the time, there is always one story of the one co-worker who drank one too many glasses of wine and ended up doing something embarrassing.  Well, Julebord is somewhat similar but in my opinion, better!

People dress in pretty dresses and suits.  Most of the time, there is a live band or comedian.  You eat Pinnakjott.  The meal that took me 10 years to love.  It is sheep ribs (mutton) that have been salted for a long time, then soaked in water, then boiled.  Then, served with potatoes and a mashed rutabagas and potato dish (Kålrabistappe).  



The main event for Christmas is celebrated in Norway on the 24th.  For lunch, you have rice porridge with a peeled almond hidden inside.  Whoever gets the nut gets a prize, which most of the time is a marzipan pig.  Before dinner, you gather and sing around the Christmas tree.  Then for dinner, you have pinnakjott or lutafisk (jellied fish).  Then gifts are given and families go to church together.  

The holiday continues on Christmas Day (day 1) and on December 26th (day 2).

The pretty city!!!

The big thing in Bergen is the Pepperkakebyen (the gingerbread house city).  People from all over the city make gingerbread houses and submit them to be at the pepperkakebyen.  Then, one house wins!!

 What can I say, Norway is just pretty in the wintertime.

The view from the apartment.

Bryggen downtown

I'm not quite lucky enough this year to spend all of Christmas in Bergen.  I'm flying away to Spain to spend the holidays with my Aunts, cousins and sunshine!!  Now, I can say I get to celebrate Christmas 3 times!!

1 comment:

  1. i love new traditions for holidays. it is fun to embrace the old and welcome the new and create something way more fun and exciting than if you were to just celebrate one :)

    it only took me one time to love pinnekjøtt ;) it is my favorite norwegian dish. i also love kålrabistappe.

    hope you enjoy your holidays...all three of them!